Friday, May 12, 2017

Catweazle has left the game

I must have been 5 or 6 years old when I was introduced to Catweazle, a medieval sorcerer who managed to escape the evil Normans by conjuring himself into our 20th century. That is, he ends up in 20th century Great Britain, where he is charmed by modern magic, like electrickery, until he finally finds a way to return to the good old days.

I definitely was too young to follow the plot in detail, but a few years later I found the books by Richard Carpenter in the library around the corner, and I read them over and over again, and when later the two series were rebroadcast, I loved to watch them again, this time fully appreciating the humor and peculiarities of the Wizard of Saburac (and of Great Britain). This series was built to last! Chances are not very good, but I promise if I ever get a pet toad I will call it Ticker. Or Touchwood. Mayhap.

Yesterday I read the news that Geoffrey Bayldon, the actor who had played Catweazle and without doubt contributed to his popularity, passed at the age of 93. The creator of the series, Richard Carpenter, died in 2012. It must be a sign of the times now I feel this turns a page in history, and their league of creative minds have become extinct. With Catweazle, a curious young boy who loved to dream of magic (and Great Britain) has passed. As Catweazle used to say: nothing works!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Call the police! - postpostscript

So I brought my case under the attention of the Public Prosecution Service. It looks like they choose the easy way out: they did not even acknowledge the receipt of my letter, not mentioning the silence that followed. Today I gave it another try, this time using registered mail. Stay tuned.

Postpostpostscript: my registered letter has reached its destination. That is all: it looks like it was ignored.

Post4script: I sent a complaint to the Chief Prosecutor. She acknowledged receipt, and  let me know she would get back to it in six weeks. A couple of days later, the receipt of my registered mail was acknowledged, with a note that the Public Prosecutor Service will look into my case. I suggest you do not hold your breath.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Let's make Apple Inc. respect consumer rights!

I started a petition to ask attention for Apple not respecting consumer rights worldwide. I would appreciate if you could give this a go, sign the petition and spread the word!

Apple Inc. is violating consumer rights worldwide. While many countries require Apple to guarantee the proper functioning of its products for a period of at least two years, Apple still maintains a limited one year warranty period, and makes its customers believe they need to buy an expensive AppleCare plan, which adds as much as 25% to the already high price of its products. For instance, EU laws grant consumers a free of charge, two-year guarantee, which means that AppleCare effectively adds only one year of coverage, rendering the plan prohibitively expensive.

In addition, Apple rejects claims of guarantee with respect to repairs and parts on products it has chosen to declare 'vintage'. For instance, a consumer claim for a MacBook Pro logic board replacement (EUR 700) which lasted little longer than one year was rejected, for the reason that, by that time, the original MacBook Pro was more than five years old. This is illegal in most countries.
Apple happily provides notes to consumer laws, while, in practice, these laws are rarely respected, if ever, by Apple, its service providers and its resellers. Instead, Apple challenges its customers to sue them if they do not agree, trusting that the bulk of its customers do not have the resources to do so, while local authorities lack the drive to effectively take action.

To sum it up, Apple willfully violates the rights of consumers, leaves them ignorant about their rights, and manipulates its customers and local authorities worldwide into paying prohibitively high prices for its products and services. This must stop now!

(the petition can be found at

Friday, March 3, 2017

Call the police! - postscript

Two months after filing my complaint on Apple and accomplishes (see Call the police!) I decided to inquired about its status; I did so against my better judgment. The girl who answered the phone did not have the guts to answer me, and muttered about the complexity of the case. The person who handled my case would contact me.

The response came through email. It mainly referred to the standard letter which had reduced my original complaint to civil law, and although the sender of the email was the same girl who had filed my addendum, she conveniently avoided mentioning its existence. When I reminded her about the addendum she jotted down a quick email response. An official letter was obviously too much to ask.

She wrote me that I had accepted the replacement logic board, and should have complained right after the repair. Also, there was no way I could prove that a new logic board would have lasted longer than the patched up version I had received. So, this was not about criminal law, and I better ask attention for this case with the Dutch Consumentenbond or the tv show Tros Radar.

The response not only completely ignores the fact that a limitation period of twelve years applies to fraud, it also suggests that criminal law applies only if it can be proven that the victim was better off if the crime had never been committed. So, I can safely kill my 90-year old mother, as we will never know how many years the Good Lord had had in mind for her, and it is okay to rape a girl, as long as she cannot prove she would have been happier without rapist. This line of reasoning completely and utterly reduces criminal law to civil law, and shifts the burden of proof to the thin shoulders of the victim. In addition, as a sad case of economism it reduces each and every aspect of quality of life to monetary quantity. Also, it shifts the burden of solving cases like this from the police to institutions which are notorious for being only interested in audience ratings and magazine circulations.

It might be that it is just the Emmeloord girls of the police district Flevoland of unit Midden-Nederland who are incompetent, ignorant, lazy and, in one case, rude, but I am afraid these are the symptoms of a broader trend which has kicked off decades ago. It is one of the reasons I believe this country is completely lost.

I will bring this issue under the attention of the Public Prosecution Service, and give them a fair chance to sort this out. I will report about its progress, or lack of it, in this blog.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Shall I compare thee to a hand grenade?

One of our still lifes in art schools featured a pomegranate. I will never forget the face of my painting teacher when I addressed the fruit as 'a pomegrenade': "A WHAT?".

I had assumed that if it looks like a grenade, is written in Dutch like a grenade, it will be pronounced as such: not. The English 'pomegranate' comes from the Latin 'pomum granatum', or apple with many seeds.

Later I learnt the link between the two was not really far-fetched: in the old days, the explosives were named after the fruit, because they looked the same.  So, if your pomegranate has a pin, throw it directly after you pull it out...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Of rabbits and ninjas...

It must have been 10 years ago when our Bujinkan Miko Dojo moved its summer training to a nearby park. To communicate this change of location to my fellow ninjas, I taped a note to the front window of the school which had been kind enough to let us use their gym. However, after one week I found the note had been removed.

I restored the note, only to find it removed the week after. It looks like the school was not too keen on blowing its insurgent ninja activity cover. This required firm measures. Ninja measures.

I designed a little sign with an cheeky homage to Dick Bruna's ever-popular Miffy character, or nijntje as she is called in Dutch: "Miffy trains outside". For the rest of summer, the school tolerated my note on its front window.

Dick Bruna has always been known for guarding his little rabbit girl against abuse: he objected to cruel jokes about 'nijn eleven' and 'nijn kampf'. This week he passed away, at the age of 89. I still wonder what his response to my ninja nijntje would have been...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Happy little poems III

In Nederland - J. Slauerhoff

In Nederland wil ik niet leven,
Men moet er steeds zijn lusten reven,
Ter wille van de goede buren,
Die gretig door elk gaatje gluren.
'k Ga liever leven in de steppen,
Waar men geen last heeft van zijn naasten:
Om ‘t krijschen van mijn lust zal zich geen reiger reppen,
Geen vos zijn tred verhaasten.

In Nederland wil ik niet sterven,
En in de natte grond bederven
Waarop men nimmer heeft geleefd.
Dan blijf ik liever hunkrend zwerven
En kom terecht bij de nomaden.
Mijn landgenooten smaden mij: "Hij is mislukt."
Ja, dat ik hen niet meer kon schaden,
Heeft mij in vrijheid nog te vaak bedrukt.

In Nederland wil ik niet leven,
Men moet er altijd naar iets streven,
Om ‘t welzijn van zijn medemenschen denken.
In het geniep slechts mag men krenken,
Maar niet een facie ranslen dat het knalt,
Alleen omdat die trek mij niet bevalt.
Iemand mishandlen zonder reden
Getuigt van tuchtelooze zeden.

Ik wil niet in die smalle huizen wonen,
Die leelijkheid in steden en in dorpen
Bij duizendtallen heeft geworpen...
Daar loopen allen met een stijve boord
- Uit stijlgevoel niet, om te toonen
Dat men wel weet hoe het behoort -
Des Zondags om elkaar te groeten
De straten door in zwarte stoeten.

In Nederland wil ik niet blijven,
Ik zou dichtgroeien en verstijven.
Het gaat mij daar te kalm, te deftig,
Men spreekt er langzaam, wordt nooit heftig,
En danst nooit op het slappe koord.
Wel worden weerloozen gekweld,
Nooit wordt zoo'n plompe boerenkop gesneld,
En nooit, neen nooit gebeurt een mooie passiemoord.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Call the police!

Making someone pay for a new logic board, and installing a patched up oldie instead fits the legal definition of a scam, so I decided to report my problem with Apple to the police.

The front desk officer glanced through my case and decided he did not have time for me, and asked me to make an appointment for a date later that week.

When I returned a few days later, a female officer apologized for the miscommunication, and told me she was not going to file my complaint, as this was a matter of civil law. I explained to her, once more, that taking someone's money for a product which is never installed is a clear case of a scam, so I asked her for the second time to file my complaint. She refused again, this time with the argument I could not prove anything, after which I explained that this is not required for reporting a crime. I asked her a third time to file my complaint, after which she refused, because the prosecutor would dismiss my case anyways. I repeated my arguments but the lady would not budge, so I gave up and went home to prepare further steps.

I learnt that the Dutch police is legally obliged to file a complaint (Code of Criminal Procedure, article 163) and the proper way to handle this is to file a complaint with the police, and to report the issue with the prosecutor's office, so that is what I did. My complaint was responded to by a standard letter and a phone call, and a few weeks later I was invited to report my case.

During my third visit a complaint against MacCity, MicroFix and Apple Inc. was filed, after which I went home with a fancy folder with the report. A few weeks later I received a letter which told me that my case was dismissed, as it was a matter of civil law. When I reread the report, I realized the crux of my case was not worded properly, as it merely suggested the new logic board was non-conform, so I reported once more to the police station to file an addendum.

As usual, the front desk officers did not have time, and this time they were not even willing to make an appointment: I had to contact them through a paid phone number. When I finally got in front of the queue, I got my appointment, and reported to the police for the fifth time.

This time, I was met at the front desk by the lady who had initially refused to file my case. She did not wear her police uniform, and immediately opened fire: she thought I had understood her and found it low that I had filed a complaint against her anyways. I tried to explain I had understood her, but did not agree with her, had asked her three time to file a complaint, that she had refused three times, which was for me a reason to try other channels, but the lady was not really interested in my defense. She barked "THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE SCREAMED: 'DON'T DO THIS TO ME! I DEMAND YOU TO FILE MY COMPLAINT NOW'." I fruitlessly tried to explain this is not my style of arguing, but the woman had already reverted to scream-only mode. I filed my addendum with a colleague of hers, and have not heard of it ever since.

This week, I read that Dutch crime rate is grossly underestimated, because the Dutch are no longer taking the effort to report crime: the bulk of all crimes reported is ignored by the police. It looks like the Dutch police has disintegrated into an introverted organization which is interested in itself only. The future of this country is that of a Mad Max desert where every man solves his own problems. Well, at least this means problems are solved.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Klachtenkompas complaint

I spent a couple of postings about the worrisome state of consumer rights in The Netherlands, and the way Apple cs. makes clever use of this to takes people's money. One of the steps I have not mentioned yet, is registering a complaint with Klachtenkompas, a site of the Consumentenbond.

Klachtenkompas promotes itself as a facility where you can issue a complaint, after which the relevant company takes action to solve your problem. As is often the case, reality is less idyllic: Klachtenkompas simply forwards your complaint, and relays the company's response, if any, back to you. Companies like Apple, which is expert in ignoring customer complaints, typically ignore emails from Klachtenkompas, so you might as well trash the complaint yourself: Klachtenkompas takes no action at all.

I did complain about Klachtenkompas itself, as its website is misleading, but the Consumentenbond, who is all too eager to publicly scold companies for ignoring complaints, remained silent. One employee mentioned that she seemed to remember about revamping the site, and her colleagues might choose to reword the relevant phrases, but she was not clear about a time frame in which things were going to be fixed. Six months after, nothing had changed.

I took it one step further, and registered a complaint with the Stichting Reclame Code (SRC), a Dutch institute which sees to it that commercials and advertisements conform to the rules as recorded in the Nederlandse Reclame Code. The SRC protocol allows the defendant to respond to the complaint, as well as the plaintiff to respond to that response, so the procedure took a while.

The Consumentenbond defended itself by referring to its terms of use, where they state that a successful solution cannot be guaranteed. In my response, I stressed this is a little weak for an organization that has more than once reprimanded companies for hiding aggravating conditions in their small print.

The SRC declared my complaint founded, and advised the Consumentenbond to stop promoting their Klachtenkompas in the contested wording (File 2016/00841 ). Although, the SRC is not authorised to issue a verdict with binding force, or to impose a penalty, its verdicts are usually seen as authoritative.

The Consumentenbond changed the Klachtenkompas site the same day, which lead to user complaints about inaccessible accounts and complaints disappearing. It shows all the signs of a haphazard redesign, with the cheap slogan "Met klachtenkompas sta je sterker" ("You are stronger with klachtenkompas"). It looks tongue-in-cheek but, as far as I can tell, does not break any rules of conduct.